SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital

Ollie's Story

In October of 2021, two year-old Ollie was taken to Urgent Care for a persistent belly ache by his parents. He had been saying his belly hurt on and off for a few weeks, but it had gotten worse after a fall on the playground. Ollie had what they characterized as a bloated belly; however it had looked like a “toddler belly” on and off for months. Nothing seemed abnormal.

Ollie’s parents took him to an SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Urgent Care. The nurse practitioner felt Ollie’s belly, sensed something wasn’t quite right, and got an X-ray of his belly. Twenty-four hours later, the urgent care called Ollie’s parents, telling them that the radiologist wanted Ollie to be seen in the Emergency Department at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital.

A CT scan and subsequent blood work revealed a large mass that was cancerous. “It was the biggest nightmare,” recalled Ollie’s mom. “Complete devastation. Disbelief.” Ollie was admitted to the hospital. After a blood transfusion, an MRI and some additional testing, it was confirmed to be cancer. He had Hepatoblastoma, which was coming from Ollie’s liver.

Surgery revealed that the tumor was too close to the portal vein and too vascular to be removed at that time. After more than three hours in surgery, the biopsy was complete and Ollie had a central port placed for blood access and treatment. He went immediately to the pediatric intensive care unit that evening to be closely monitored. The surgeon said that despite the tumor not being able to be removed, it had not wrapped itself around the portal vein. He thought that with treatment, the tumor would shrink and it could be removed, eventually.

Ollie started chemotherapy the following week, just seven days after diagnosis. The goal was to have two rounds, and then scans to check and see if his tumor had shrunk enough to have surgery.

While admitted, “Ollie wanted to get up and go for a walk. He also requested ‘his instruments’. He loves playing instruments and the music therapist came by to show him a variety of instruments he could play!” Ollie’s mom said. Ollie was discharged on November 4.

Ollie did well with his first outpatient chemotherapy infusion in The Costas Center. Ollie’s tumor response to round three of treatment would be critical to determining his path forward through his cancer diagnosis.

Thankfully, there was significant tumor shrinkage. The tumor was roughly half the size it was at diagnosis. Ollie had surgical resection of his tumor on February 7, 2022. Once he recovered from surgery, he would have two more rounds of chemo to complete to ensure that all cancer cells have been eliminated.

March 29, 2022, Ollie had his last chemotherapy treatment. Ollie rang the bell, celebrating completion of the chemo protocol. The following week, Ollie had scans which confirmed he was in remission! He would have monthly tests and quarterly scans for the next year. He would also be monitored for long term side effects from the various chemotherapy agents he received. After seven months away, Ollie celebrated a return to preschool.

How CMN Funds Help Ollie and Kids Like Him:

While admitted, Ollie participated in art and music therapy. Therapists use art and music to assist patients during their hospital stay, improving their experience. Trained professionals use the clinical and evidence-based art and music intervention to assist with gross, fine and oral motor skills; cognitive development and psychosocial goals.